Finding a Cure for Immortality: an Interview With the Creators of Never Ending

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Posted September 11, 2013 by Sebastian Mejia in Comic Books

Never Ending is an upcoming three-issue miniseries focused on immortal superhero Chuck Baxter. We had the opportunity to speak with the book’s co-writers, DJ Kirkbride (Amelia Cole) and Adam P. Knave (Amelia Cole and Artful Daggers), and artist, Robert Love (Fierce and Number 13) about the mini and what readers can expect on November 27th when the book hits stores. We also got to touch a bit on what’s coming up in Amelia Cole and Artful Daggers

WTN: Do you mind giving an elevator pitch for Never Ending, for those who are unfamiliar with the project?

DJK: After outliving all of his loved ones, the world’s only superhero teams up with his arch-nemesis to find a cure for his immortality.

APK:When the true cost of doing good is losing everything you have, are you willing to pay it, and keep paying?

WTN: Very cool. In terms of the writing process, I know collaborative work isn’t new to you guys since you co-write Amelia Cole. Can you speak a bit about how that process works for you two? Do you divvy in up by pages or just work together on the full thing? Are there any distinct advantages with collaborating? How does that affect drawing the book?

DJK: We have it down to a science at this point! For each issue, we talk it all out and come up with the story and basic beats. Then one of us does a rough outline, with the beats and page breakdowns. The other takes that and adds dialogue. Then it becomes a back and forth of revising until we think it’s good enough to send to the artist, in the case of NEVER ENDING, the great Robert Love. Once it’s drawn, we do a lettering pass, making sure all the text matches up with the art if there have been any layout changes and also just some general tweaking. That gets sent back and forth a lot until we think it’s good enough to send to the letterer. Once lettered, we do a final pass. By the end of it, we’ve both touched every word of the book. Having another set of eyes you trust is a great advantage to collaborating. The stories Adam and I write together are not what we’d write solo or what Adam would write with another co-writer. It becomes something unique that we can only achieve together.

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APK: We divvy up the concepts of how scripts are put together, actually. We chat on the phone to come up with the overall plot of each issue and story and then one of us does a swipe at nailing down what every page has, scene-wise. A pace pass that also tells us what actions need to happen as well as reactions and emotions and such. “Page 17 – Bob comes home. He sees his dead pet otter. Doesn’t take it well. Takes it out on a wall.” That sort of thing. Then the other one does a first pass at the full script. The next issue we switch jobs. That way we both get to play. Comics are collaboration. At least for me. I can’t draw. Since I will always be collaborating why not also work with another writer at the party? More vision, more intellect, more cool ideas floating around and catching each of us when we fall. It’s a win/win/win type of situation, so long as both writers can get past their egos and really focus on making the story the best it can be.

RL: These guys are really great writers. Seriously, if the comic world doesn’t know them now, they will. D.J. and Adam’s writing/script style is so fluid and easy to read. I’ve worked on scripts before where I have to keep going to the writer asking him/her to clarify a certain scene. Not these guys. They are very clear on what they want.

WTN: Speaking of collaboration, how’d Robert Love come aboard? Is he a co-creator as well? I know that with Amelia Cole Nick Brokenshire has a lot of creative freedom, is your relationship with Love similar?

DJK: We met Robert through the POPGUN anthologies, to which he contributed cool stories to volumes 1 and 4. He’s a great guy and a mighty talent, so we knew we wanted to collaborate with him. As we were developing NEVER ENDING, we were a little concerned with the story being too dark in the initial stages, and Robert’s big superhero-style seemed like it could give the book great visual fun that would be the spoonful of sugar we needed.

APK: : Robert has a great art style. He makes things pop on the page and is fun to work with, to boot. Plus he’s one of the nicest humans you’ll ever meet. So when we were thinking of where to go, Robert’s name came up, and it seemed so obvious.

RL: Like D.J. said, I met him through POPGUN. I was trying to think of when I met Adam, but I just can’t remember. Seems like I’ve always know him (ha ha ha). I remember talking to them asking them if they wanted to work together. They were down and they asked me what do I like to draw. Growing up on superheroes I said, “ Superheroes and monsters!” And viola, NEVER ENDING!

WTN:Is there a specific reason you went with Dark Horse, was there a specific appeal for print as opposed to digital?

DJK: : Digital is awesome, but I grew up reading comics in print, too, especially floppies — a term that I use lovingly. Adam and I are huge Dark Horse fans and have always wanted to do a book with them. Robert has worked with them on books like FIERCE and the recent NUMBER 13 and has a good relationship with them. Basically, thank you, Robert!

APK: Dude. Dark Horse. That’s like asking, “Is there a reason you went with the Yankees?” Well, because chances are they’ll win. Dark Horse is legendary, and one of those companies I’ve always wanted to work with. They said yes and hey! Also don’t mistake D.J. and I as “digital guys” just because we do a book that is digital first. We make comics. Coming out digital first, digital only, print first, whatever it is — it’s about the comic not the delivery system. We love all of it, and thrill to it.

RL: For me, Dark Horse was the only place to go. I’ve been working with them since 2004 and have built up a great relationship with them. They are a great bunch over there. I asked D.J. for the pitch and sent it to Dark Horse. Within a week Mike Richardson called me up saying, “Let’s do it.”

WTN: Are there any specific influences you can point to that led you to Never Ending?

DJK: Death terrifies me, honestly, and I try not to think about it very much. But immortality is its own kind of terrifying, too, so it seemed like an interesting topic to explore. A cool way to write about it without getting too mopey or morose was to do a superhero story. So, we have all the action and adventure while writing about the fear of a life never ending.

APK: Death terrifies D.J. so I end up influenced by his raw fear. No, but the story is very human at its core, and for parts of it there was a bunch of John Irving in my head. Just in terms of scope and emotion.

RL: I grew up reading John Byrne, George Perez, John Buscema and the like. I like their large, big picture approach to their books. I wanted to give the book that same appeal. I want readers to look at and can tell that it’ll be a lot of fun.

WTN: In the solicit it says that being trapped in his body for decades is driving Chuck insane. My initial reaction, especially from that initial piece of art, is that he’s maybe somehow displaced in time. Can you elaborate on that a bit?

DJK:: I can see how you’d think that, but the cover more represents all the years he’s been alive. He can’t time travel, he just has to wait everything out. The years fly by, but the minutes drag on and on for him. It’s not that he’s completely crazy or anything, though. He is a man who was initially meant to live eighty years or so. He’s outlived the love of his life and his kids, and he just knows this isn’t right. His heart can’t handle it. Emotionally.

APK:: No, if he was skipping it wouldn’t be really trapped the same. Those dates more represent that at the center of the spinning whirlwind that is time passing us, he is at the center — untouched. And that’s not a good thing for him.

WTN: Sticking with the theme of time, it seems like the story would lend itself to exploring different eras, is that something that we might see?

DJK: Yes, we have three main eras for Chuck: the initial wide-eyed 25-year-old who gets powers back in the early 1950s and becomes a clean-cut superhero, then the man who has lost both his wife and son to old age and is just going through the motions, and finally an overly-muscled and emotionally-hardened man in the future who has detached himself from society.

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APK: Indeed! [By focusing] on three distinct eras for Chuck, [we’re] giving the reader a feel for the whole story while still remaining clear in purpose.

WTN: Did you always have a three-issue run in mind? It seems kind of short when there’s the potential for so much story.

DJK: It was originally designed to be a little longer or an OGN, but Dark Horse really likes the idea of a three-issue mini-series. We had to do some revisions and tweak the story a bit to make it work, but in the end it forced us to trim all the fat, making a very lean and fast-paced story that doesn’t waste any time. It ended up working out very well.

APK: : [After Dark Horse suggested keeping it to three issues] we thought about it and realized that really tightening the screws down made everything even cooler. We had to make every fraction of a second count more and really drive. It made for a good learning experience, actually, and I think the story is better for it overall.

WTN: Is there any possibility of Never Ending becoming an ongoing?

DJK: Never say never. This story does have a definite ending, but, having said that, we have more ideas we could explore.

WTN: To change gears for a minute and switch to your other work, what’s it been like with Amelia Cole having the reception it’s gotten? It’s definitely not a traditional hero or setting, but it seems to resonate with people, why do you think that is?

DJK: Thanks! Yeah, we’re so happy folks are enjoying AMELIA COLE. I think the reason is that she’s a well-rounded character, surrounded by other characters. They feel enough like real people, that the fantastical elements of the story have a little more weight to them. Also, it’s not dour or overly serious. We have a good time with it, and I think the fun translates to the readers.

APK: It’s amazing. Simply stunning. I can’t put into words properly how great it is that people seem to enjoy it. As for why they do – Amelia is the story of a woman growing into who she wants to be, in her 20s. It’s a story most of us have been through, or will go through, and so it resonates. It’s also exciting and full of magic and action and punching!

WTN: Can you guys tease anything coming up with Amelia Cole or in Artful Daggers, Adam’s other book?

DJK: We’re in the middle of “The Hidden War” storyline in Amelia Cole. She’s getting more and more in over her head as she investigates the Magistrate’s suspicious ways. Hector and his pals in Omega Company continue to have a tough time with these pesky magic-sucking monsters, too. I’m really proud of that book thanks to Nick Brokenshire’s great art, with assists from the talented Ruiz Moreno, Rachel Deering’s expert letters, and the majestic mind of that Adam fella. The more issues we do, the more practice we get, and the better the book gets.

APK: [In Artful Daggers] we’re closing in on the end of our first arc and things are going to explode. Literally. Often. And when the curtain falls on Arc One (with issue 9) we take a short break and then come back with our second arc, which will see the characters in very different places, organically. There are massive changes, secrets to be revealed and deep character exploration to be had – also a lot of knives and cool spy missions.

DJK: Also, Robert’s awesome Dark Horse mini-series he drew and co-wrote with the super talented David Walker, NUMBER 13, is out in trade now from Dark Horse. It looks lovely.

WTN: Thanks guys, we’re really looking forward to Never Ending

You can check out more of Robert Love’s art for Never Ending on his blog, and you can find Adam and DJ’s books Amelia Cole and Artful Daggers on Comixology.


About the Author

Sebastian Mejia

Sebastian Mejia is a life-long lover of pretty much anything nerdy. If it's games, movies, TV, comics, books, or any other medium, he's probably consuming it. When he's not writing on his off-time he's a 2nd year law student. Follow him on Twitter @The_Sebass to see him beg for attention.